Federal official answers questions about health care law at Paine College

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Audrey Wood used to pay $300 a month for her mother’s dementia medication along with premium costs for her husband’s and her own health care.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  Region IV Director Anton J. Gunn leads a discussion on the Affordable Care Act at Paine College.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IV Director Anton J. Gunn leads a discussion on the Affordable Care Act at Paine College.

After President Obama’s signature health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, became law in 2010, Wood saw that dementia cost drop to $150, and later to $6, when she took advantage of other benefits and programs.

On Friday, she had a chance to find out what else the law had in store for her.

About 50 people gathered at Paine College to hear Anton Gunn, the Region IV director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, speak about the health care law and clear up common misconceptions.

“Most of what I hear now is interpreted through the news media, but I got to hear directly from someone close to the issue,” Wood said.

Gunn explained how the law will extend coverage to Americans by not allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage if a customer becomes ill.

The U.S. Supreme Court began deliberating the constitutionality of key components of the law in March, including the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The court is expected to make a ruling in June with the presidential campaign as a backdrop.

The law will open Medicaid eligibility to individuals making less than $15,000 a year or families of four with a combined income of less than $30,000. In the past, only poor people with disabilities or children could qualify.

At least 80 percent of premiums paid by customers must now go toward direct care and not overhead costs and fees previously bloated by insurance companies, Gunn said.

And for the first time, insurance companies can’t arbitrarily raise premiums without justification.

Gunn said a common argument against the law is from people who claim these benefits will add to the country’s deficit. But a study by an independent auditor through the Congressional Budget Office found the act will actually save the nation $210 billion during the first 10 years, he said.

Gunn said most of those savings will come from preventive care, such as catching a tumor with a $150 colon screening rather than paying $300,000 for cancer treatment down the road.

“It’s not adding to the deficit of our country,” Gunn said. “Health care costs spiralling out of control is what contributes to the deficit.”

People listening to Gunn included those without health insurance curious about what the law will mean for them and those with coverage who wondered what might change.

Sheila Maynard directs Friends for Better Health, a health education program that teaches people about taking care of health conditions with natural remedies. Maynard chooses not to have health insurance because she focuses on preventive care and takes care of her body. So she was concerned that a forced mandate would make her pay for insurance she didn’t need.

After speaking with Gunn, she got a little peace of mind.

“I don’t want to pay a whole bunch because I don’t feel I need it,” Maynard said. “But I understand it more now. I wanted to be clear in what the coverage would be.”

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Sweet son
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Sweet son 04/20/12 - 04:56 pm
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What, if anything, are the

What, if anything, are the new entitlees paying for this "insurance?" Premiums should be taken out of other entitlements. My family has to pay premiums for out health insurance. These new "customers" should have to pay too!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/20/12 - 04:58 pm
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"But a study by an

"But a study by an independent auditor through the Congressional Budget Office found the act will actually save the nation $210 billion during the first 10 years, he said."

That's not true. In 2010, the CBO clarified unless funding to Medicare is cut, instead of decreasing the deficit, the law would actually increase the debt by $226 billion through 2019.

fedex227
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fedex227 04/20/12 - 11:06 pm
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"That's not true. In 2010,
Unpublished

"That's not true. In 2010, the CBO clarified unless funding to Medicare is cut, instead of decreasing the deficit, the law would actually increase the debt by $226 billion through 2019."

The 2011 comprehensive CBO estimate projected a net deficit reduction of more than $200 billion during the period 2012-2021. CBO estimated in March 2011 that for the 2012-2021 period, the law would result in net receipts of $813 billion, offset by $604 billion in outlays, resulting in a $210 billion reduction in the deficit. CBO reiterated in March 2012 that its deficit projection remained consistent with its 2010 and 2011 estimates.

This comes directly from the CBO's website. There was no caveat cited by the CBO that Medicare funding needed to be cut; nor was there a provision in the Affordable Care Act that reduced Medicare funding. I'm not sure the source of your information. Fox News? Rush Limbaugh?

griff6035
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griff6035 04/21/12 - 12:45 am
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Why is it every time an Obama

Why is it every time an Obama Official comes to Augusta they always go to Paine College, and why is it you never here about it until after they have come and gone?

JRC2024
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JRC2024 04/21/12 - 06:58 am
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I bet Ms. Maynard will run to

I bet Ms. Maynard will run to the hospital or call an ambulance when she gets real sick but thinks she should not pay.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/21/12 - 07:11 am
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Here is an honest discussion

Here is an honest discussion of the accounting used to justify Obamacare.

"To summarize:
Con: Relative to a world where Medicare expenditures are brought into balance with revenues within the next few years (which does appear to be required under the literal reading of current law), ACA increases Medicare expenditure and the deficit. This is the Blahous view.

Pro: Relative to a world in which we project current practice forward, ACA reduces Medicare expenditure and the deficit. This is the Krugman and Orszag view."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreybrown/2012/04/18/making-sense-of-the-...

MrsD2
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MrsD2 04/21/12 - 07:41 am
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I'm sorry, unless the whole

I'm sorry, unless the whole entire medicaid system is over hauled - the deficit will increase. You are going to make eligiblity even easier for the 'entitlement' age but yet the tax payers are to believe that the deficit will not increase?

Bizkit
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Bizkit 04/21/12 - 09:00 am
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Paine often has Barrow and

Paine often has Barrow and Clyburn-only Dems. They are aiding Paine getting funding. Mr. Gunn told the faculty that HHS gives more money in grants than any other department and that Paine should apply for these competitive grants (qualify for minimum of 10 million)-wink, wink. A friend works there, I find it distrubing that competitive grants aren't really competitive but political. You could reason that African-americans were discriminated against and now time to discriminate for. The plan is to build the school with the indirect cost of faculty grants so no grants no future at Paine. My friend says its tough though because no decrease in teaching load and you still have to perform research (most schools provide time), and no one has received a raise there in the last 5-8 years and the only way to get one is by getting a grant and writing in some salary. The pressure is on there and likely explains the constant turnover. I guess a little of that Darwinan socialism the Prez is so fond of.

raul
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raul 04/21/12 - 06:33 pm
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"Maynard chooses not to have

"Maynard chooses not to have health insurance because she focuses on preventive care and takes care of her body. "

Ms. Maynard, who pays when you step out in front of a bus and stay in ICU for three weeks and recuperate for 6 months with physical therapy etc. ? What if you were unfortunate enough to contract cancer? Would you rely on those natural remedies you advocate or go the route of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, etc.? which are incredibly expensive?

I am not for Obamacare. I am for people exercising some personal responsibility and buying at least catastrphic coverage insurance which most could pay for if they gave up things that they don't need, e.g. premium cable, cell phones (not the free ones.), eating out, drinking alcohol, smoking, clubbing. Just to name a few.

wondersnevercease
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wondersnevercease 04/21/12 - 10:26 am
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So barry is sending out his
Unpublished

So barry is sending out his henchmen to the black masses to drink the koolade.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 04/21/12 - 10:49 pm
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Wow, my friend told me Mr.

Wow, my friend told me Mr. Gunn had the President on his speed dial but he was gonna see him Tuesday anyways. You've got to give them their due credit, for such a small school, to receive such attention. Kudos to President Bradley he seems to have a plan to make it a big school. He and Dr. Azziz at GHSU both seem to be forward thinkers with big plans. I am starting to think my reluctance to believe these guys can really drive this is premature. Good luck to Paine and GHSU (Azziz could apparently take a few hints from Bradly-this Gunn fellow is a big deal). Keep it up guys you are winning folks over.

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